Here is the next article in our series where we share our stories gathered from the online support group for women coming out later in life. For more information on this support group and how to request to join, go here. You can find the earlier posts and topics in this series here.
STAYING WITH YOUR HUSBAND/PARTNER (Part 2)
by Laurel Peterson
This month we’re discussing different topics related to late life lesbians who choose to stay married to their straight husbands, either temporarily or permanently. This week we’re discussing how these marital relationships fare once the woman realizes and accepts that she isn’t straight. Our question is:
If you stayed in your straight marriage after realizing your sexuality, in what ways did your marriage/relationship to your husband change?
Changed for the better
For some, the honesty of discussing and dealing with their sexuality with their husband actually strengthened their bond of friendship and relationship in a non-sexual manner.
Our relationship became better – though it took a few months. We have increased our open and honest communication. Our goal is amicable eventual separation, although we are currently together for financial reasons. We have three kids so continued communication and respect is key as we enter this new phase. We started couples counseling to aid us. – M
It was tough, but we renegotiated our lives separately, and now we are still in the same house and are very happy. – Alison
Distant yet cordial
Many more women become distant from their husbands in the wake of this situation, yet are still able to remain friendly and manage a household and co-parent peacefully.
Within three months of coming out, I made the decision that I could not stay married and be true to who my inner being is. Due to his current job, we are living overseas, but he is due to return to the US in July, and I am staying in Europe. I have moved to a separate bedroom. My husband feels like we are no more than roommates, and “everything has changed.” However, I still do many of the same household chores that I carried out as a dutiful wife for 22 years.– Rachel
After I came out to my husband, I decided to stay in the same house for financial reasons and to co-parent our daughter. I moved into a separate room, and having my own space has made it seem a little less strained. For the most part we have maintenance conversations and discuss our daughter. – Nicole
Several late life lesbians find their relationships with their husbands evolve throughout the process of coming out to them and starting to live authentically. Many are still in the process of charting this course.
It’s changing daily and it’s so painful. He’s dating and that stings. I’m not dating yet, not quite ready. We plan to live together for the next year for financial and parental reasons. Once the kids know then we’ll officially move my husband out of our bedroom. Still I’m dreading every step forward.. – Jen
When I came out to my husband, our relationship didn’t immediately change. As time wore on we stopped being intimate and then I asked him to sleep in a different bed. We agreed to an open marriage on both our ends, but now I’m seeing someone and he isn’t, so he wants me to give up the woman that I am in love with in order to just stay together and raise our boys. Our simple life is now very complicated and it’s definitely the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I do trust that in time he will accept this and be happy for me; and I am confident that he will meet someone when he is ready. – Karen
Deterioration of relationship overall
Unfortunately, often times the wear and tear of trying to stay together and make things work when you aren’t really “together” any more can take its toll.
Everything changed. I chose to stay in the same house for financial reasons. But everything about him completely annoys me, at best, or infuriates me. I think the biggest change is I had rose colored glasses on when it came to him and I took them off. I now see his bluster and bravado and his need to control everything! Previously, I didn’t see any of that. – Annie
We have continued to live together for various reasons, and it has been awful. We are both dating, and I have struggled with that. Most days, I can’t look him in the eyes. I’m angry and frustrated at being stuck in this situation and being his sounding board for his anger, frustration & sadness. I’m exhausted from trying to hold it together. We never used to fight, and I always accommodated his needs and opinions over my own, but this has changed. I’m more assertive now, and that is a definite positive. – Kerri
Abuse, loss of respect, and more
Even more than a deterioration of what was previously a good and amicable relationship, sometimes marriages in this situation can take a dark turn.
When we agreed to cohabitate for financial reasons after the marriage was over I grossly underestimated the toll that would take on me and us. It’s been almost three years and it’s easier to identify the ways that our marriage/relationship HASN’T changed. Staying in the same house meant that I got a front row seat to his grief process which included lots of blame, anger, accusations, verbal abuse and a complete lack of understanding or respect for me. – Susan
We cohabitated for almost a year until the divorce was final. I would spend “my time” with the kids until their dad came home. Then I would go to my room, and leave the door open if they needed me. I would not suggest this, as the kids saw me as withdrawing from THEM, even though I was in self preservation mode against their dad who was sending me hate-filled harassment texts multiple times per week. I was often sick to my stomach and would get migraines from the stress. When I moved out, a huge weight dropped and I was alive again…more alive the further I got from him. – April
In the end, how a straight marriage evolves once one person comes out as not straight depends largely on the state of mind and level of communication and respect both spouses have for each other. There is no question that this is one of the most difficult issues any straight marriage can face, and every relationship, just like the people within them, are different. Next week, we’ll cover the issue of same sex affairs within straight relationships.